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The Do’s and Don’ts of DIY Basement Remodeling


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Are you considering a basement remodeling project? Finishing your basement is a great way to increase the usable space in your home. Whether you plan on remodeling to increase your home's living space, build a home gym or office, increase storage space, or even build a mini-apartment, there are a few things you should consider.

Basement renovations are not the easiest home improvement projects, but with the proper planning, you can prevent your new addition from becoming a huge headache, financially and otherwise. One of the advantages of hiring a contractor is that they can help you through the maze of county laws and ordinances. 

In addition, a good contractor should be able to take preventative measures for issues that are common in your particular area, such as climate concerns. Although a contractor is the more expensive route, even do-it-yourself remodeling projects can become expensive when it comes to basement renovations.


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The Do's & Don'ts of Basement Remodeling

The best way to get the most out of a basement remodel, especially a DIY remodel, is to carefully research and plan your project. Having a clear idea of how your finished basement will look will help prevent you from changing directions during the project. Also, be sure to set a reasonable budget . . . and stick to it!  These tips will help you keep your basement remodel within budget.

What to Do When Remodeling a Basement

When remodelling your basement here are a few things you should consider doing:

  • DO Waterproofing - Before beginning your basement renovation, make sure your basement is dry and that it will stay dry. The time to worry about waterproofing is before you spend thousands of dollars on your project. Check out these tips for waterproofing your basement.
  • DO Check Building Codes - Check with your local building department before you begin renovating your basement. Depending upon the scope of your remodel, you may be required to have a permit. If you are having any electrical or plumbing work done, you'll most likely need to have it inspected. Taking the proper steps in the planning phase will help keep your project running smoothly, without any surprises.
  • DO Preventative Moisture Control - Moisture can be an ongoing concern, even if you take the proper steps to ensure that your basement is waterproofed. Lining the walls with a vapor barrier, creating an offset space between the basement walls and the interior finished walls, and/or purchasing a basement dehumidifier will help keep moisture to a minimum and mold from developing.
  • DO Allow for Ceiling Access - Electrical wires and plumbing pipes are often located in the ceiling of a basement. By installing a suspended ceiling you will not only be able to provide an attractive ceiling to your finished basement, you'll also allow for future easy access to the electrical, plumbing, and ducts.
  • DO Allow for Extra Space in the Utility Room - Many homes utilize the basement for their furnaces and water heaters. Because there are specific codes that apply, the utility room should be left unfinished and in an open area. There will be a time when furnace and water heater repairs will be necessary and you'll need access to the area. In addition, access will be needed to inspect your newly installed furnace and/or water heater.

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What Not to Do When Remodeling a Basement

Tackling a basement remodelling project can be challenging, even when everything goes as planned. Here are a few things not to do:

  • DON'T Wait to Clean - Take the time to tear-out and clean-up the space as much as possible before starting your basement remodel. This is hard work, but by getting rid of as much as possible in the beginning of your project, you'll find it's a lot easier in the end. Also, as you work, take the time to dispose of the debris that accumulates, this will prevent you from having a massive mess at the end of your remodeling project.
  • DON'T Hesitate to Hire a Contractor - Even if you're renovating your basement yourself, you should hire a licensed plumber and/or electrician. There will likely be inspections that need to take place, not to mention working with electricity can be extremely dangerous. It's worth the money, time and safety to have a professional do this work for you.
  • DON'T Be Stubborn -  If you come to a point in your remodel when you're not sure what to do, or how best to handle a situation, consult a professional. Being resistant to seek help can not only be expensive, it can also be dangerous.
  • DON'T Change Plans - Take the time upfront to know what you want. Planning is one of the most important steps with any project, particularly costly ones like basement remodeling. Making changes to your plans when you're in the middle of your renovation not only wastes time, but also money. There's going to be unexpected things that come up during your project, but try to keep changes to a minimum. Remember, set a reasonable budget, and stick to it.

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With proper planning and a clear vision of the outcome, completing a DIY basement remodeling project is entirely possible. It's critical to a successful project to take the time to plan, and not to hesitate seeking help if the project is beyond your skill set. It's far more important to have things done right, so you can enjoy your new basement sooner rather than later . . . and prevent future problems.

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